The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: B

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Be reconciled

The idea of reconciliation is quite pervasive in the teachings of Christ. How else could it be for one in whom God was reconciling the world to Himself (2Co 5:19)? This is nowhere more evident than in that section of his teachings known popularly as the Sermon on the Mount. Here, in rapid succession, the Divine Master places his blessing upon the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers -- the reconcilers! The "Beatitudes" are followed by the warning of Mat 5:20: "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." Jesus could not have meant that his listeners should follow a more abundant "righteousness" than that of the Pharisees: that would have been well-nigh impossible at any rate. He must have meant a "righteousness" of a different sort -- leaving behind the painstaking legal hair-splittings of washing and purifying; the wearisome fretting about contamination and separateness in a ceremonial sense.

The righteousness that Jesus advocates is an earnest, loving consideration for one's brother, the principle rather than the appearance of righteousness, a reaching forward and not a pulling back: "Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment" (Mat 5:22, RSV).

We can well imagine the skeptic's words: 'Yes, this is all well and good; but what does it have to do with 'fellowship'?" The answer is found in the next two verses (Mat 5:23,24). The "gifts" we offer to God at this time, which Christ must have had in mind, are prayers and praises (Psa 141:2; Hos 14:2). The "altar" to which we now approach is Christ himself, in heaven at the right hand of the Father, where he acts as priest and mediator also (Heb 13:10; 1Jo 2:1). The lesson is obvious, and has -- it may now be seen -- a strong bearing upon our "fellowship": Even if your "lamb" or "gift" (ie your personal, individual worship and service) is "without blemish", you must still be reconciled to your brother before God will be pleased to accept it! Only when reconciliation is sought, and peace is made, and brethren dwell together in unity (Psa 133:1) -- only then is the invitation extended: "Come and offer thy gift."

The Proverbs tell us there are seven abominable things, which God hates. The seventh (the worst?) of these is "he that soweth discord among brethren" (Pro 6:19). If this is so, then the teaching by contrast would be this: he whom God loves above all else, who is worthy of the seventh (the greatest?) blessing, is the peacemaker and the reconciler -- ''he who sows accord among brethren".

"The command of Christ is, 'BE RECONCILED.' Jesus does not discuss where the fault may lie. That is unimportant. The important part is -- Seek reconciliation, continually, always. Not just go through the motions once or twice, like a technical Pharisee. He says -- BE reconciled; keep at it; never give up the effort. IF THESE COMMANDS WERE OBEYED, THERE COULD BE NO ECCLESIAL PROBLEMS" (GVG, Berean 57:47).

"Brethren in Christ must PRACTICE reconciliation, atonement, and unity, not seeking to expose sins but to recover the sinner. They have no authority from Christ to mark up the failings of others and to make known from the housetops their deviations and sins... We should be no wedge-drivers but reconcilers, and not fall into the error of rejoicing more over the one sheep that is lost than over the one that is found, over withdrawing fellowship rather than restoring it" (CMPA, "Fellowship -- Its Spirit and Practice", The Christadelphian 109:11).
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